Largemouth Bass Fishing in Florida – Tackle, Techniques, and Spots

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Florida

The topic of this article will be largemouth bass fishing in Florida. Florida has earned the nickname “the sport fishing capital of the world” for good reason. Anglers have a wide variety of options in both freshwater and saltwater. However, it would not be difficult to make the argument that the largemouth bass is the most sought-after fish species in the state.

 florida bass fishing

Florida is the perfect environment for largemouth bass. The state is quite flat, which means that the majority of lakes are shallow with little relief on the bottom. Vegetation is usually abundant. These shallow, weedy lakes are very fertile. Forage species such as panfish, shiners, minnows, and shad feed and hide in this weed growth. This in turn attracts predator fish such as largemouth bass.

bass fishing in Florida

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Special thanks to Stephanie for the pictures and technical assistance. Stephanie Hucheson is a successful tournament angler, basing out of Debary, Florida. She is sponsored by Gillz gear, Lowrance, Cal Coast fishing, Coolbaits and Woo Tungsten.

Florida largemouth bass habits and migrations

Largemouth bass spawn in Florida in the winter. In the southern part of the state, it starts in late December. In the Florida Panhandle and northern portion of the state, the spawning process starts a bit later, usually in late February. Normally, lakes are fairly low as this is the dry season. The result is that many anglers sight fish for trophy largemouth bass on the beds this time of year.

bass fishing in Florida

After the spawn, bass move off of the beds scatter about to feed. This can be an excellent time to catch them as it is not too warm yet and the bass have not eaten much in the last month or so. As it warms up, largemouth bass move into their summer patterns. Where available, bass will seek out deeper water in lakes that offer that. In shallow water, largemouth bass be found tight to cover such as boat docks and under the thickest mats of vegetation.

largemouth bass fishing in Florida

As fall arrives and the water temperature cools off, largemouth bass will disburse and feed fairly heavily. Once again, this is an excellent time to pursue them. Shad in particular become a top forage, especially in the back ends of coves and creeks. As the end of the year approaches, fish will begin their pre-spawn and spawning habits and up cycle starts all over again.

Florida bass fishing tackle

bass fishing

Anglers fishing for largemouth bass in Florida can be confused by the tackle options. Many serious and tournament bass anglers actually have a rod and reel for each specific technique; spinner bait fishing, worm fishing, plug fishing, etc. However, a couple of different outfits will really cover just about every bass fishing situation and angler will encounter.

Anglers can read more about bass fishing tackle in this article

Spinning rods used to be a rarity among anglers bass fishing in Florida, and all over the country. However, that has changed of late. One look at a bass fishing tournament on television will relay how popular spinning tackle is these days. This is mainly due to the advent of finesse fishing, in which spinning tackle is a better choice.

There are many options when it comes to choosing a good spinning rod and reel combination for bass fishing. While there is no one perfect outfit, a 7 foot medium action rod paired with a 3000 series reel and spooled up with 20 pound braided line is an excellent all round combination. This rod will allow anglers to cast fairly light lures and still have the muscle to handle a decent largemouth bass when hooked around cover.

Conventional, or bait casting, tackle still certainly has its place when fishing for largemouth bass. It is still the best choice for casting heavier plugs as well is for pitching and flipping soft plastic baits in and around heavy cover. A medium heavy bait asting rod that a 7 1/2 feet long with a matching reel and 40 pound to 50 pound braided line is a good all-around combination.

Florida largemouth bass fishing techniques

There are many different techniques that anglers fishing in Florida for largemouth bass can use successfully. There the same basic tactics used by bass anglers throughout the country. These include fishing with plugs, soft plastic baits, weedless spoons, jigs, spinner baits, chatterbaits, and frogs.

bass fishing

Plugs are very effective largemouth bass fishing lures. For the most part, they are designed to mimic a wounded bait fish. Some are long and slender, these are known as jerk baits. Others have a more round design and are most often called crank baits. For the most part, plugs that float on the surface and dive down a couple feet work best in the shallow Florida waters.

Rapala x rap

 

They are most effective in open water as they will hang up quickly on weeds and other vegetation. However, anglers can certainly use deep diving crank baits around the channel edges and submerged points in deeper lakes. Lipless crankbaits are very effective in areas where vegetation is not too dense.

Read more about topwater plugs in this article

Topwater plugs are quite effective and are very exciting to fish. As the name implies, top water plugs spend their entire time on the surface. Some have built-in fish attracting attributes like a concave face or a propeller, which creates a commotion on the surface of the water. Others are more subtle and a different action is used. They are mostly fish around submerged structure and weed line edges, particularly early, late, and on overcast days.

fishing for largemouth bass

Soft plastic baits literally revolutionized bass fishing in the late 60s. The early models were quite stiff and not very enticing. That has certainly changed! Anglers can purchase soft plastic worms, creature baits, swim baits, crayfish, and more. While there are many different types of baits, they are fished relatively similar, especially in Florida.

Rigging soft plastic baits

texas rigged worm

Probably the most used combination is a plastic worm rigged Texas style. With this rig a conical sinker slides onto the line followed by a special worm hook. The worm is in threaded on to the hook spun around and the hook buried in the worm. This results in a very natural presentation which is virtually weedless. This allows a plastic worm to be fished and just about the thickest cover imaginable. Just about any soft plastic bait that is long enough can be rigged in this fashion. Anglers can also omit the weight and swim the worm through and around vegetation.

bass fishing in Florida

Another rig that is quite popular, though it looks a bit silly, is the wacky rig. With this rig the hook is simply inserted through the center of the worm. It is cast out and as it falls through the water column, it undulates very seductively. Most strikes occur as the worm falls in the bass picks it up and runs off with. This technique is easy for novice anglers to use as strikes are easy to detect.

wacky rig

The Carolina rig is not used quite as often by anglers bass fishing in Florida, as it is most effective in deeper water. It consists of a sliding egg sinker followed by a swivel. The swivel stops the sinker and allows for a leader to be tied on. A leader between 18 inches and 4 feet long is then attached to the swivel followed by a hook at the other end. A floating worm is Texas rigged to complete the rig. This is extremely effective when crawled over deeper submerge structure such as channel edges and deep points.

carolina rig

A drop shot is another very effective rig when fishing plastic worms and other soft plastic baits. It consists of a sinker at the bottom with a small light wire hook tide 18 inches or so above. When bounced on the bottom, this rig suspends the offering just above the bottom where suspended bass often feed. This works well in the shallow Florida waters as well as around deeper structure. This technique is often used with small finesse baits and works well when bass are finicky.

drop shot

Finally, there are swim baits. These are soft plastic baits that generally look like bait fish. They have a bulky body and some type of tail, usually a paddle tail, that gives it great action. Anglers fish some quite large baits in search of trophy fish, however the 4 inch to 6 inch models usually work best. They can be fished on a swim bait hook or on a jig head.

More largemouth bass fishing lures

silver minnow

Weedless spoons are not as popular for bass anglers as they used to be, but this is perhaps a mistake. A weedless spoon is an excellent lure to use in patches of lily pads and dollar pads. It puts out both flash and vibration, is easy to cast, and the hookup ratio is good. Many anglers add some type of soft plastic trailer to add bulk and action.

Booyah jig

Jigs are extremely effective largemouth bass fishing lures, particularly in the cooler months. They tend to catch larger fish, for whatever reason. While similar to jigs used in other freshwater and saltwater applications, there are some differences. Bass fishing jigs are usually bulky and have undulating rubber legs.

Florida largemouth bass fishing

Most bass jigs also have a stout weed guard as they are fished around heavy structure. Many anglers add a soft plastic trailer to the jig to increase the action and the bulk. These are extremely effective lures when pitched around and through heavy vegetation. “Punching” a heavy jig through a matter vegetation and allowing it to fall produces some very large fish!

Spinnerbaits are also very effective bass fishing lures. They are an excellent choice for novice anglers as they have a lot of built in action, cast well, are relatively weedless, and the bite is easy to detect. A spinnerbait is basically a combination of a spinner and a jig in one unit. They work very well around weed edges and submerged and fallen trees. They will hang up in very heavy vegetation. A variation of a spinner bait is called a buzz bait and runs completely on the surface.

bass fishing

Frog fishing has become extremely popular in the last few years. It is a very exciting way to fish and works quite well in the shallow, weedy Florida lakes. The lure is plastic and weedless and is simply cast over top of matted weeds or other vegetation and worked along the surface. Fish will explode up out of the vegetation to take one. Fairly heavy tackle is usually required to get the fish out of the vegetation.

chatterbait

Chatterbaits are fairly recent to the bass fishing scene. They are also called bladed jigs. It is basically a jig with a blade at the front that adds vibration and flash. It is a shallow water bait that works very well in vegetation. It is a good search bait that allows anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time.

Using live bait for largemouth bass in Florida

The discussion of live bait fishing for largemouth bass in Florida begins and ends with shiners. Other live bait can be used, but shiners are by far the most popular and effective. Wild golden shiners in particular are extremely productive, especially on larger fish. Guides who specialize in trophy bass almost all use shiners exclusively. They are expensive and can be difficult to obtain. Shiners are fished under floats using heavy casting tackle, usually around vegetation.

largemouth bass

Top 10 Florida largemouth bass fishing spots

  • Lake Istokpoga
  • Lake Okeechobee
  • stick marsh Farm 13
  • Rodman reservoir
  • Lake Tohopekaliga
  • Harris chain
  • Lake Kissimmee
  • Lake Talquin
  • Tenerok and Mosaic management areas
  • Lake George and the St Johns River

Lake Istokpoga

Lake Istokpoga is located in Sebring, Florida. It is highly regarded as both a trophy Lake and four numbers. This nearly 27,000 acre Lake is the fifth largest in the state of Florida. It is fed by Josephine Creek and Arbuckle Creek. It is a typical shallow bass lake with a variety of aquatic vegetation. Access is good with plenty of lodging in the Sebring area.

Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee had some down years but is now back again as water levels have stabilized. This huge body of water is the largest lake in the state of Florida and one of the largest in the United States. It is quite shallow with acres and acres of submerged and visible grass and other vegetation. The best spot for both access and accommodations is at Roland Martin’s resort in Clewiston at the south end of the lake.

Florida bass fishing

Stick Marsh

The St. Johns Water Management Area, is better known to most anglers as the Farm 13 Stick Marsh. It covers 6,500 acres and is located in northwest Indian River County. It is shallow, with water depths averaging from 4 to 8 feet deep This can be a very dangerous place to navigate due to underwater obstructions. Anglers need to put safety first! It is catch and release and the fishing is terrific! Cover and vegetation are abundant. There is a concrete two lane boat ramp, air boat launch site, restroom and paved parking lot. Vero Beach is the closest town. Anglers need to purchase gas and supplies there, nothing is available at the lake.

Rodman reservoir

Rodman Reservoir is located south of Palatka, Florida. Ir is a 9,500-acre lake that was formed in 1968 by a dam across the Ocklawaha River. It is nearly 20 miles long with many square miles of flooded timber in varying depths along with abundant vegetation. It does have some deeper areas due to the flooded river channel. It is fairly remote with several ramps at the north end and another at the south end of the lake.

Lake Toho

Lake Tohopekaliga, or Lake Toho for short. Is the gem of the Kissimmee chain of Lakes. Recent draw downs and environmental enhancements have resulted in this like making a huge comeback. During the spawn, it takes a huge stringer of bass to win a competitive tournament. The lake offers both numbers and trophies. It is not quite as accessible as some lakes, and this may be one of the reasons that it is so productive. Launching and accommodations are found in the town of Kissimmee, at the north end of the lake.

largemouth bass fishing in Florida

Harris Chain

The Harris Chain of Lakes are located 40 minutes northwest of Orlando. The interconnected lakes of the Harris Chain cover approximately 50,000 acres of water and together make up the second largest lake in the State of Florida. These lakes are extremely fertile and anglers will find a variety of conditions in each lake. The lakes are shallow with the familiar tannin stained waters. Leesburg and Tavares are the spots to launch and stay.

Lake KIssimmee

Lake Kissimmee is the southernmost of the lakes in the Kissimmee chain. Despite being only 40 miles south of Orlando, it is fairly remote with limited access. The best spots to launch are at the State Park as well as at the south end of the lake where there are several ramps. This is a very fertile lake with abundant varieties of aquatic vegetation.

Lake Talquin

Lake Talquin is located 20 miles west of Tallahassee. It has 8,800 acres and is probably beest known for crappie fishing. Lake Talquin is fairly deep for a Florida lake, averaging 15 feet and with a maximum depth of 40 feet. There are 7 public boat ramps on the Leon County side of the lake of of highway 20. There are 3 public boat ramps on the Gladson County side. Six fish camps surround the lake.

Tenerok and Mosaic Management areas

The Tenotok and Mosaic management areas are reclaimed strip pits. They are located close together in Polk County, Lakeland, Florida. After mining operations ceased, it was required that the lakes were reclaimed and returned back to as natural a state as possible. The difference is that many of the lakes in this system are deeper than the average Florida lakes due to the mining operations. The days that anglers can fish and the number of anglers are limited and many of them are idle speed only.

Lake George and the St. Johns River

This 310 mile long river and lake system flows from Jacksonville through almost the entire state. It includes several lakes, including Lake George, which is the second largest lake in Florida at 46,000 acres. It is a very diverse system, with quite deep water in spots, by Florida standards. Lily pads are plentiful, along with other vegetation, flooded timber, drop offs, and river channels. Access is very good all along it’s length.

In conclusion, this article on largemouth bass fishing in Florida will help anglers catch more fish, hopefully a trophy bass!

 

Largemouth Bass Fishing – Tackle, Lures, and Techniques

Largemouth bass fishing – tackle, lures, and techniques

The topic of this comprehensive post will be largemouth bass fishing. Largemouth bass are arguably the most popular freshwater game fish species. In this article, bass habits, locations, tackle, lures, and techniques will be covered.

largemouth bass fishing

Largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, are a carnivorous apex predator. They have an extremely diverse diet and thrive in a variety of environments. These are certainly two keys to their abundance and popularity. Largemouth bass are found in all of the lower 48 states, southern Canada, and even Hawaii. The proliferation of bass fishing tournaments the last few decades have certainly accounted for this surge in popularity.

Largemouth bass habits

Largemouth bass are ambush predators. This behavior alone is a major key in locating and catching fish. Largemouth bass have a very large and powerful tail and a huge mouth, thus the name. It prefers to lie in ambush and when prey gets too close, the bass flares it’s gills and inhales the helpless forage. This cover comes in many different forms, both natural and man made.

largemouth bass fishing in Florida

For the most part, largemouth bass prefer shallow, weedy lakes and rivers. They can be found in just about every type of aquatic vegetation at one time or another. Factors that dictate where they will be located are water temperature, sunlight, bottom composition, and availability of forage. Largemouth Bass thrive in a wide variety of warm water environments. This is certainly a key to their success, along with their varied diet.

Bass are caught in the smallest creeks up to huge impoundments and reservoirs. Largemouth bass can even tolerate some salinity and they thrive and brackish rivers all along the United States coastline. As long as the water is not too cold, anglers will find largemouth bass present. Man-made structures certainly attract largemouth bass as well.

best soft plastic lure

Many larger reservoirs were flooded in the mid-60s and early 70s. Much of the flooded timber that attracted bass has long since rotted away. The fish have adapted and in many of these lakes boat docks are the prime cover for largemouth bass. Many of these docks are located in deeper water, or with access to deeper water, which bass prefer. Bridges and rip-rap will attract and hold largemouth bass as well.

Largemouth bass fishing tackle

The discussion of largemouth bass fishing tackle can get very complicated. However, for the purposes of this article we will try to keep it simple. There are four basic types of fishing rods and reels; spin cast, spinning, conventional or bait casting, and fly. Spin casting tackle is fine for novice anglers and children fishing for bluegill and other small fish, but it really is not suitable for serious largemouth bass fishing. Fly fishing for largemouth bass is great fun and challenging, but is a bit of a specialized tactic.

best bass lure

Best spinning rod and reel for largemouth bass fishing

Spinning tackle is the most widely used rod and reel outfit for anglers fishing across the world for both freshwater and saltwater species. It is versatile, durable, affordable, and easy to learn to use. Just a few years ago, most serious bass fisherman used conventional tackle. One look at a current bass fishing tournament on television will provide evidence of how popular spinning tackle has become, even among serious bass anglers.

Anglers can read more about bass fishing tackle and equipment

The increase in the popularity of spinning tackle has a lot to do with the advent of finesse fishing. This is an extremely effective technique for largemouth bass and other species. However, the lures used are very light. Spinning tackle is well-suited, much more so than bait casting tackle, to casting and fishing these very light baits.

largemouth bass fishing

There is no one spinning outfit that is best for all bass fishing situations. A 7 foot medium action rod with a fast tip paired with a 3000 series reel is an excellent all around combination. A rod such as this has plenty of backbone to fight a big fish while the limber tip gives anglers good casting distance and accuracy with light lures.

Best baitcasting rod and reel for largemouth bass fishing

Baitcasting, or conventional, tackle certainly has its place and bass fishing. A couple of the advantages of bait casting tackle are the power and line control. Anglers keep constant light pressure on the spool as it revolves with their thumb, allowing for very accurate distance control. Also, since the line comes straight on the spool and does not turn 90° as it does with spinning tackle, it provides more power. Most anglers largemouth bass fishing choose conventional tackle when flipping jigs and other soft plastic baits into heavy cover as well as when casting heavier plugs. Bait casting tackle works very well in conjunction with heavier lures. A 6 1/2 foot medium heavy rod with a matching reel will get the job done.

Click these links to shop Amazon for Spinning and Baitcasting rod and reel combos

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fishing for largemouth bass

A quick note here needs to be inserted about bass fishing rods and reels. Advanced anglers will often have specifically designed rods and reels for certain types of fishing. These rod and reel combinations are custom designed to do a specific task. There are worm rods, spinnerbait rods, crankbait rods, etc. For anglers who can afford many different outfits, this is fine. However, this should not discourage anglers who can only afford a couple of outfits. Versatile spinning and bait casting rod and reel combinations such as the ones mentioned above will serve anglers well in a variety of fishing situations.

Best largemouth bass fishing line

power pro line

Anglers largemouth bass fishing have several choices when it comes to line. These basically break down into three categories; braided line, monofilament line, and hybrid or fluorocarbon line. Again, serious anglers will have rod and reel outfit set up with certain line types for certain situations. For most anglers, 20 to 40 pound braided line is an excellent all round choice. Those fishing in very clear water may opt for fluorocarbon or monofilament line.

bass fishing

Click links to shop Amazon for braided and monofilament fishing line

So, to button up the tackle conversation, two well thought out outfits will cover the vast majority of situations that a largemouth bass anglers will find himself or herself in. A medium spinning outfit spooled up with 14 pound fluorocarbon line and a heavier bait casting outfit spooled up with 30 pound braid is an excellent start.

florida bass fishing

Seasonal migration of largemouth bass

It is very important to understand the seasonal migrations of largemouth bass in order to be successful. In the coldest months of the year, depending on the geographical location, bass will usually school in deeper water. This is usually done over some type of structure such as a river channel edge or the drop off on a point. Florida and the extreme south, this does not occur as drastically. top texas fish species

As the water warms up, bass will begin their pre-spawn migration. Bass will stage in areas of a few feet to several feet deep off of prime spawning spots. These are areas of preferably sandy bottom or even small gravel. Largemouth bass can be aggressive at this time and easier to catch. At a certain time, usually triggered by a full moon, fish move up and begin bedding. The male bass will use its tail to fan out a saucer-shaped nest. The female will then deposit the eggs and the male bass will fertilize them. Bass are not really interested in feeding at this point, however they will attack a lure in order to defend the nest. Fishing at this time takes a lot of patience, but the reward can be a trophy!

bass fishing with a worm

After the spawn is completed, the post spawn phase begins. This is an excellent time to fish for largemouth bass! They are usually hungry and aggressive after the period of guarding the nest where they really don’t feed much. Again, the transition areas just off of the flats as well as any cover on the flats can be productive spots.

Summer bass habits

In summer, largemouth bass will move to several different locations. In the south where a lot of the lakes are too shallow to really be cool, bass will find the heaviest cover with the most shade that has forage available. This usually includes docks and very thick vegetation. In larger lakes, largemouth bass will often move offshore to deeper water and stage up on point drop-offs and channel edges. This is particularly true in lakes that have good populations of shad and herring. This is a time of year when anglers will encounter schools of largemouth bass feeding on the surface even in quite deep water. The bass will trap the helpless bait fish against the surface of the water. This is an exciting situation for anglers bass fishing to encounter!

Bass fishing

As it cools off, largemouth bass will usually move back shallow and scatter out. In some bodies of water, this can be a difficult time to fish as bass can be anywhere. The back ends of creeks can be good as bait fish will often concentrate there. Bass will also relate to vertical structures such as sheer cliff walls and steep drop-offs. Some lakes “turn over”. This is when cooling water sinks through the water column down to the bottom. It can churn up bottom debris, turning the water dark or even black. This can be a difficult time to fish. As it gets colder, fish will revert to their winter locations and the cycle will start all over again. Obviously, every year is different when it comes to weather, water levels, and other factors which will determine largemouth bass locations.

Fishing for largemouth bass with artificial lures

While live bait can certainly be effective when largemouth bass fishing, the vast majority of anglers do so using artificial lures. Any angler new to the sport of bass fishing may be completely overwhelmed when walking down the aisles of his or her local tackle shop. Again, the goal here is to simplify and explain the choices anglers have when it comes to largemouth bass fishing lures.

Best 11 topwater plugs for freshwater fishing

Artificial lures break down into several categories. These are soft plastic baits, plugs, spinners, spinner baits, spoons, and jigs. Each of these major categories can be broken down into several subcategories as well.

The top 7 largemouth bass fishing lures are:

  • plastic worms

  • creature baits

  • plugs

  • spinners

  • spinnerbaits

  • spoons

  • jigs

Soft plastic largemouth bass fishing lures

Soft plastic baits have revolutionized largemouth bass fishing. They are available in every conceivable size, shape, and color. They look very lifelike and enticing in the water. Many are even scented, adding to their effectiveness.

Worms

women bass fishing in Florida

Plastic worms hit the market in the late 1960s, and bass fishing has never been the same. These early lures were very stiff, unlike the supple baits available today. While there are many different soft plastic styles to choose from, the simple plastic worm is still incredibly effective. They are available in a multitude of sizes, colors, and even styles.

zoom trick worm

Click to shop Amazon for Zoom Trick worms

One of Capt. Jim’s favorite plastic worms for largemouth bass fishing is the Zoom Trick worm. It is a slender worm that is 6 1/2 inches long. It can be rigged in any manner to be effective. Dark colors work well in darker or stained water, while clear or lighter colors work best in clear water. Green pumpkin is an excellent all round color.

senko

Click to shop Amazon for Senko worms

The Yamamoto Senko is a fantastic and very popular soft plastic bait. It is kind of a bridge between a worm and a finesse bait. It is available and 4 inch models and 5 inch models in a wide variety of colors. It can be rigged a variety of ways, however is extremely effective in a finesse fishing situation.

Creature baits

creature bait

Click to shop Amazon for creature baits

There are a huge selection of creature baits available to anglers largemouth bass fishing. These can imitate salamanders, crayfish, and even critters that don’t exist. It really doesn’t matter if the bait resembles something natural, it is all about the undulating action and scent in the water. Most anglers opt for dark or natural colors. Black is an excellent all round color that will produce just about every situation.

Swim baits

die dapper

Click to shop Amazon for Bass Assassin swimbaits

Swimbaits are basically soft plastic versions of hard plugs. Most have some type of paddle or curly tail and imitate a bait fish swimming through the water. They can be rigged on a jig head, but are most often done so using a swim bait hook. These lures range in size from 3 inches up to even a foot or so. Capt. Jim likes the Bass Assassin line of baits.

Grubs and tubes

mister twister

Click to shop Amazon for Mister Twister grubs

Grubs and tubes are also very effective soft plastic lures for largemouth bass fishing. These are most often effective when bass require a more subtle presentations. Mister Twister curly tail grubs hit the market in the late 70s and have been catching fish ever since. They are usually fished on a jig head and have an excellent action in the water. They can be used to imitate both bait fish and crustaceans. tube lure

Click to shop Amazon for Berkley tube baits

The Berkeley tube jig is a tube bait. This lure works very well when largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are staged in deeper water over structure. The separated tales of the tube jig undulate very naturally in the water, attracting game fish. It is best worked slowly, right on the bottom.

Rigging soft plastic baits

Soft plastic baits are very versatile and can be rigged and presented in a variety of manners. These include Texas rig, Carolina rig, wacky rig, swim bait hook, and drop shot rig. Each has situations where they are quite effective.

Texas rig

texas rigged worm

A Texas rigged soft plastic bait uses a specially designed hook. The bait is threaded on a quarter of an inch or so and the bait slides up the hook to the eye. The hook is then inserted into the body of the bait, making it weedless. Anglers usually use a sliding sinker to get the bait down in the water, though it can be used without weight as well.

Carolina rig

carolina rig

The Carolina rig usually combines a Texas rigged worm with a heavy sliding sinker. It is an extremely effective presentation that is usually used in deeper water. The running line slides through the sinker and is tied to a swivel. A leader connects the swivel to the worm hook. The leader is usually around 3 feet long. This rig allows the sinker to crawl along the bottom while the worm, usually a floating worm, suspends just a bit above the bottom.

Wacky rig

wacky rig

A wacky rigged worm looks almost silly. However, it is turned out to be an extremely effective and fairly easy to use bass fishing technique. The hook is inserted through the middle of the worm. Is then cast out and allowed to undulate naturally as it sinks through the water column. Most takes occur on the initial cast, though the worm can be hopped once or twice. Bass will often pick up the worm and run off with it, making it easy to detect a strike. It is often used in conjunction with a light jig head called a shaky head jig.

Swim bait hook

swim bait hook

Soft plastic baits can be rigged on a swim bait hook as well. These are specially designed hooks that look like a worm hook but with a weight molded in the bend of it. This results in a horizontal presentation. Some type of keeper near the eye of the hook allows the bait to be inserted and then the hook is buried in the bait Texas rig style. This is an extremely effective way to cover a lot of water with a soft plastic bait.

Drop shot rig

drop shot

The drop shot rig is a fairly recent technique developed by anglers fishing for finicky bass and deep, clear water. The rig consists of a special drop shot weight with a drop shot hook tide 12 inches to 18 inches above the weight. The hook is designed to stick straight out to the side. Some type of finesse bait is then knows hooked on. The rig is either cast out, but more often drop straight down, and worked with subtle movements of the rod tip. This rig keeps the bait suspended just off the bottom, in the strike zone of the largemouth bass.

Best plugs for largemouth bass fishing

fishing for largemouth bass

Plugs are hard bodied lures that are used to mimic baitfish or crayfish. Back in the day, they were hand carved from balsa wood. Most plugs today are made from plastic. Top water plugs float on the surface and spend all of their time there. Diving plugs float on the surface and dive down to the desired depth. This depth is determined by the size and shape of the lip on the plug. Anglers can purchase plugs that work the entire water column, from the surface down to over 20 feet deep.

Topwater plugs

Topwater plugs float on the surface the entire presentation. Some have a concave front that puts out a nice “pop” when twitched sharply. Others have propellers, either on the front or rear, which puts out a commotion. Some have neither of these and are just conical shaped, with the angler creating the action in the lure. These are called “walk the dog” baits. Color matters less for topwater plugs than it does for many other lures. Capt. Jim’s favorite popper is the venerable Arbogast Hula Popper.

hula popper

Click to shop Amazon for Hula Popper lures

Capt. Jim’s favorite propeller bait is the Rapala Skitter prop.

skitter prop

Click to shop Amazon for Rapala Skitter Prop lures

  Capt. Jim’s favorite walk the dog bait is the Heddon Zara Spook.

zara spook

Click to shop Amazon for Zara Spook lures

Honorable mention goes to a new top water lure that has been productive the last few years. It is called the Whopper Plopper and is sort of a propeller bait, with a tail that puts out a lot of commotion when retrieved.

whopper plopper

Click to shop Amazon for Whopper Plopper lures

Jerkbaits

Rapala x rap

Click to shop Amazon for Rapala X-Rap jerkbaits

There is a family of long, slender plugs that anglers call “jerkbaits”. Depending on the model purchased and the lip that it has, these jerk baits can work the water column from a few feet down as deep as 15 or even 20 feet. They have a very erratic action in the water. The bait is worked quite aggressively, with the angler using hard twitches followed by a pause. This causes the bait to jerked sharply and then hover there suspended. Capt. Jim’s favorite jerk bait is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. White is an excellent all round color

Crankbaits

kvd crankbait

Click to shop Amazon for Strike King KVD crankbaits

Crankbaits are generally a bit rounder, shaped more like a shad or a bluegill. Like jerk baits, they are available and models that work from just a foot or two below the surface down to 20 feet or so. They are extremely effective in the summer when bass relate to schools of herring and shad. For that reason, lighter colors are generally the most productive. Crank baits can also be used to imitate crayfish. In those situations, darker colors work best. Capt. Jim’s favorite crankbaits are the Strike King KVD baits.

Spinners

mepps

Click to shop Amazon for Mepps Aglia spinner

Spinners are not nearly as popular for largemouth bass fishing as they once were. A spinner is a piece of wire with a body and a blade that rotates around it. Some type of hook, usually with a dressing, is at the rear. The lure is simply cast out, allowed to sink, and reeled in steadily. Spinners are still very popular for anglers fishing for trout. However, they still have a place in every bass anglers tackle box. This is especially true for those who fish in rivers. Capt. Jim’s favorite spinner for largemouth bass fishing is the Mepps Aglia.

Spinnerbaits

best small spinnerbait for bass fishing

Spinnerbaits are extremely effective and versatile largemouth bass fishing lures. They are also among the easiest for novice anglers to learn to use as they have a ton of built in action. A spinner bait is basically a wire frame it looks a bit like a safety pin. At the top of this is a blade or blades and on the bottom is some type of jig or hook. The line tie is in the center.

Click to shop Amazon for Terminator Spinnerbaits

Due to the design, spinner baits are quite weedless. They tend to bounce over and around and through logs and vegetation. Spinnerbaits are extremely effective when used in shallow water, however they can be slow down and “slow rolled “ in deeper water as well. While spinner baits really do not look like anything in the water, they put out flash, vibration, and color. These are all things that imitate wounded prey.

top texas fish species

Spinnerbaits are available and many different colors and sizes. A tandem blade spinner bait in the 3/8 ounce or 1/2 ounce size in chartreuse and white is an excellent all round lure. Anglers can even add their favorite soft plastic trailer to add more bulk to the lure. Capt. Jim’s favorite is the Terminator spinner bait. Buzz baits are a variation of a spinner bait with the exception that it spends the entire time on the surface. The shape of the blade is a bit different, it is more like a propeller. The angler begins to retrieve as soon as the lure lands in the bait puts out a rhythmic gurgle as it moves across the surface of the water. It works best in shallow water and is a very exciting way to fish as strikes can be explosive!

Spoons

sprite spoon

Spoons are very simple artificial lures that have been around a long time. They basically consist of a curved piece of metal, usually in a chrome or gold finish, along with a hook at the rear. Spoons are heavy and can be cast a long distance, making them an excellent bait for searching for fish. They can also be used in a vertical presentation when largemouth bass are schooled up over deep water structure. Capt. Jim’s favorite casting spoon is the Johnson Sprite spoon.

Click to shop Amazon for Johnson Silver Minnow and Sprite spoons

Perhaps the most effective spoon used when largemouth bass fishing is the weedless spoon. This is a spoon that rides with the hook up and usually has a weed guard, resulting in a bait that will not hang up very easily in the weeds. It works very well when fished through and around lily pad beds as well as other aquatic vegetation. Anglers will often add a soft plastic trailer onto the hook to add bulk. The number one weedless spoon by far is the Johnson Silver Minnow in the 3/4 ounce size in the gold finish.

Bass fishing jigs

Booyah jig

Jigs are most likely the first fishing lure created by man. A jig is basically a hook with a weight molded in near the eye. This weight gives the jig both casting distance and gives the lure its distinctive action. Some type of dressing or body is then added to the hook to provide bulk, color, and action. Anglers can use a bare jig head and add his or her favorite soft plastic trailer. This can be a swim bait, curly tail grub, or even a plastic worm. The jig provides a handy and clever device which combines the hook and the weight all in one tidy unit. These work very well in open water.

best 13 bass lures for pond fishing

Modern largemouth bass fishing jigs have the molded jig head, a stout hook, and usually a rubber body skirt. This is an extremely effective lure for flipping around heavy cover. Anglers often attach their favorite soft plastic creature bait to add more bulk and vibration to the lure. Capt. Jim’s favorite largemouth bass fishing jig is the Booyah jig.

Click to shop Amazon for Booyah bass jigs

Largemouth bass fishing with live bait

best bass lure

While most anglers fish for largemouth bass using lures, live bait is certainly productive as well. Nightcrawlers and minnows or shiners are the two most popular live baits. In fact, in Florida, most trophy bass are landed by anglers using live a wild shiners. It is just impossible to duplicate the action and scent of a frightened shiner when a largemouth bass approaches it.

Shiners and live minnows are effective largemouth bass baits throughout the country. They are readily available at most serious bait and tackle shops. In shallow water they are fished under a float while in deeper water they are used in conjunction with a drop shot or other bottom fishing rig. In states where it is legal, small bluegill and panfish can be fantastic live baits for largemouth bass. However, be sure to check local regulations.

best live bait for freshwater fishing

Nightcrawlers are another very effective live bait for largemouth bass and just about every other freshwater species. In fact, if there is one downside to using nightcrawlers, it is at other fish will interrupt the bass fishing. For many anglers, this is a welcome distraction! Nightcrawlers work very well when fished simply on a hook and allowed to undulate in the water. In deeper water, they can be used with a drop shot rig or Carolina rig.

live bait fishing

Crayfish are an extremely effective live bait for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. However, they can be a bit more complicated to use. Very few bait shops sell crayfish and once purchased or caught, they are bit more difficult to use. However, some anglers consider them to be worth the trouble.

Largemouth bass fishing tournaments

There is little doubt that bass tournaments are responsible for many of the innovations within the sport. Following are three pieces by female tournament bass anglers, sharing their experiences.

Oklahoma bass fishing Tips and Techniques

This article on women bass fishing  shares some awesome Oklahoma tips. Oklahoma offers anglers excellent opportunities to catch not only largemouth bass, but smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and striped bass. Largemouth bass is king in Oklahoma, just as it is throughout the rest of the country. Anglers fishing tournaments target them over the smallmouth and spotted bass, simply because they are generally heavier. However, having the option to target the other species on a tough day is nice.

Meleah Meadows lives in Norman, Oklahoma, and knows her state waters well. Meleah is a bass tournament angler, having fished in several B.A.S.S. Qualifying and ABA events. She is a well-rounded angler and is generous enough to share her knowledge and experience on Oklahoma bass fishing with us here today.

Oklahoma bass fishing tackle

Bass anglers need several different outfits in order to be successful in Oklahoma, and everywhere else. A 7′ medium action baitcaster with 12 pound braid is great for crankbaits and jerkbaits. Medium and heavy baitcasting outfits with braid or flourocarbon line work well for flipping docks and heavy cover, along with working Carolina rigs in deep water. A spinning rod with 10 pound flourocarbon line works well with lighter baits such as a shaky head. Meleah prefers to use Falcon or G. Loomis rods with a Shimano reel.

The best piece of advice Meleah gives to anglers bass fishing in Oklahoma waters is to be adaptable to the ever-changing conditions. It is not unheard of for a morning to be below freezing then warm up to the mid 80’s. This year in particular was challenging. The unpredictable weather made it difficult to develop reliable patterns. Spots that were productive one day were a muddy mess the next. Speaking of water color, Meleah prefers moderately stained water as it prefers a little camouflage for the line and bait. Oklahoma has a lot of red dirt. This can turn the water the color of chocolate milk. Some anglers like it dirty but it can make fishing tough as it is difficult for bass to locate forage.   Fishing in clear water brings it’s own challenges. Lighter line and tackle may be required. Anglers using braid will have to add a flourocarbon leader to make their offering less visible to the fish. Most Oklahoma lakes are stained, with Tenkiller and Lake Murray being the exceptions.

Oklahoma bass fishing tips; winter

Winter bass fishing in Oklahoma can certainly be challenging. Anglers will catch fewer bass, but the ones they do catch are usually nice ones. Weather will test any angler’s determination and resolve. It gets cold! Bass are cold blooded, which means their body temperature will be the same as the water temperature. Bass do not need to eat much or often when their metabolism is so slow.   Anglers targeting Oklahoma bass in the winter need to scale down their baits and fish SLOW! And by slow, that means painfully slow.

Generally, jigs and jerkbaits will produce some fish. Bass will school up in deep water on the submerged river channel edges, especially with cover. Sometimes these fish will suspend and can be tough to catch. Several sunny days may warm up the shallows enough for fish to move up on and feed a bit. Anglers still need to fish extremely slowly. However, persistent anglers can be rewarded with some quality fish this time of year. And, they will have the water all to themselves!

Oklahoma bass fishing in spring

Spring: spring will find the bass moving up shallow in preparation for their annual spawning. Meleah prefers a spinnerbait for spring Oklahoma bass fishing, especially for pre-spawn fish. It allows her to cover a lot of water relatively quickly. It is also a very versatile lure. Her favorite spinnerbait is manufactured by War Eagle. Her second choice, and first choice when seeking a trophy bass, is a swimbait. This lure is worked slowly, usually with a steady retrieve.

 

A swimbait does not cover as much water as a spinnerbait, but it will tempt larger fish. A 6 inch bait works well, but anglers seeking a trophy bass will use a bait as long as 10 inches. Meleah prefers to toss a swimbait on an Owner flashy spinner.   Soft plastic baits certainly produce for Oklahoma bass anglers. This is particularly true when fish are located or up on the beds. A Texas rigged plastic worm or creature bait slowly worked through the shallows will produce fish. Other productive baits are a wacky rig or a fluke, either weighted or unweighted.

Summertime Oklahoma bass fishing tips

Summer bass fishing can be challenging. Water temperatures will rise up, approaching 80 degrees. While bass move deep, Oklahoma lakes stratify. At times, there simply is not enough oxygen in the deeper water. When this occurs, the best spots are docks and brush piles in water 8 feet deep to 20 feet deep are usually the best spots to fish. Dusk, dawn, and night are the best times to avoid the heat and catch fish.   Meleah has a two-pronged approach when Oklahoma bass fishing in summertime. She likes to fish a Carolina rig deep.

River channel edges and bends with cover are prime spots. Anglers will encounter large schools of spotted bass at this time of year. Locating one of these schools of spots in deep water can result in fast action! The other pattern Meleah employs in the summer is to flip a soft plastic bait or jig under a dock or some shoreline shade in deeper water. Docks in 10 feet to 15 feet of water are ideal. The further back under the dock the bait can be presented, the better chance for a bite. Top baits are spinnerbaits and tubes.

Oklahoma bass fishing, fall strategies

Meleah loves fall bass fishing! As the water cools, the bass move up and are in the mood to feed. She enjoys power fishing in water around 3 feet deep or shallower with a Jackhammer Chatterbait. A shallow diving crankbait such as a Lucky Craft or Rapala works well, too. Meleah uses a medium action rod and light line to maximize the fun. However, she keeps a heavy outfit with a jig tied on when it is time to slow down.   Rip Rap near bridges is an excellent spot to target fall bass in Oklahoma. The rocks hold crawfish and bait fish, which in turn attracts the game fish.

Topwater baits such as Whopper Ploppers, frogs, and buzzbaits are great fun first thing in the morning! Other productive fall spots include flats and coves. Oklahoma largemouth bass anglers have many options when choosing a place to fish. Meleah’s favorite lakes are Texoma, Tenkiller, and Murray. Other productive bass lakes include Grand and Eufaula.

Oklahoma smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass: Oklahoma smallmouth bass are most often targeted in the eastern Oklahoma Ozark and Ouachita stream systems. Smallies prefer clear, running water with a gravel bottom. Stream smallmouth bass are a lot like trout. They take up ambush spots in the current, places where they can dart out and grab their prey while expending as little energy as possible.

Eddies behind rocks, heads of pools and rapids, and deep holes in outside bends are all top spots. Baits that imitate crawfish such as olive, orange, rootbeer, and black jigs along with small crankbaits work well. Live nightcrawlers, minnows, and crayfish will certainly produce as well. Smallmouth bass are found in Oklahoma lakes as well. The best lakes to target them are Grand, Tenkiller, Murray, Eufaula, Texoma and Broken Bow. Smallmouth in lakes prefer similar habitat to spotted bass. Steep, rocky shorelines, points that drop off, and rip rap are prime spots for smallmmouth bass. Oklahoma offers anglers some world class river smallmouth bass fishing! The top spots include the Mountain Fork River, Illinois River, Glover River, Blue River, Little River, Baron Fork Creek, Arkansas River, Lee Creek, Kiamichi River, and Spavinaw Creek.

Oklahoma spotted bass

Spotted Bass: Oklahoma spotted bass prefer cleaner water than largemouth bass. They are mostly found in these types of waters in Eastern Oklahoma. Spotted bass also prefer more current than largemouth bass and are often found in streams and small rivers. Crayfish make up the majority of their diet, so rocky bottoms and shorelines are prime spots.

Spotted bass will often be found schooled up in deep water. Smaller finesse baits work well on a drop shot or Carolina rig. Spotted bass are a great “backup plan” for anglers in tournaments having a tough time on largemouth bass. The best Oklahoma spotted bass lakes are Tenkiller and Texoma.

Oklahoma striped bass

Striped bass: striped bass and hybrids (a striped bass white bass cross breed) are a bit different in habit than the other bass species. Stripers are an open water fish. While they do relate to structure such as river channel edges and drop offs, they mostly feed on shad and other bait fish in open water. Striped bass fishing is also excellent in the tailwaters of several dams. Lake Eufaula, Texoma, and Murray are great spots. Striped bass require running water to spawn. Several state records were landed in these types of tailwater fisheries.

Striped bass can be taken using a variety of techniques. Trolling with lures or live bait is efficient when they are schooled up in deep water. Striped bass will move shallow to feed in cooler weather and are often incidental catches by largemouth and smallmouth bass anglers. As stated above, rivers are excellent spots to target striped bass. In conclusion, hopefully this article on Oklahoma bass fishing tips provided some great information that will help both resident and visiting anglers enjoy success! Anglers visiting Oklahoma can find current fishing regulations on state site.

Winter largemouth bass fishing in Florida

This article will focus on women bass fishing features Katie catching Florida winter bass. Largemouth bass spawn in Florida in winter. Sight fishing produces some of the largest bass of the year.

women bass fishing

Largemouth bass are the most popular fish in the country. They are targeted by millions of anglers in every state in the lower 48. The Florida strain of largemouth bass grow the largest of all bass. These fish have been transplanted in Texas, California, and other states. Many anglers from all over the world travel to Florida in winter in search of atrophy bass!

“Winter” is a relative term, especially when discussing Florida. The northern part of the state experiences seasonal changes. The southern part of Florida experiences cold fronts but still stays pretty nice for most of the year. The “calendar” is a bit different in different parts of the state. However, just about every part of Florida offers anglers the chance to catch a trophy bass in winter.

Tournament angler Katie Jackson

Katie Jackson is our north Florida bass expert. She is an accomplished tournament angler and is a bass fishing guide at an exclusive resort in north Florida. She is generous enough to share her knowledge and experience with us in this article.

women bass fishing, tournament tips

Follow Katie on YouTube

“I grew up in north central Florida. I started fishing as a child. On the weekends we would go out to the flats in the Gulf of Mexico and see what we can catch. Or, we would go to the Santa Fe and Suwannee River for large mouth bass, pan fish and our local Suwannee bass.

“I started fishing tournaments around 2010 and qualified for the 2013 FLW BFL All American, being only the second woman to ever qualify. I’ve been a bass fishing guide at Bienville Plantation in White Springs for a few years and I’m their only female fishing guide. I love traveling to new places, fishing unknown waters and exploring the outdoors. My sponsors are Lew’s, TightlinesUV, FishBomb scent, BienvillePlantation, Popticals, Eco-Popper.

Florida tournament bass fishing

“Florida strain bass are pretty particular when it comes to cold fronts during the winter months here in Florida. As the water starts to cool in November and December, the shad are moving. I scan areas using my electronics to find balls of bait and determine what depths they are at.

Catching Florida winter bass, baits

Then, I like to use hard jerk baits and my favorite swim bait, Tightlines UVSow Belly Swimmer. It has a built in skirt which flares while pausing a retrieve (That’s when they tend to grab it). These baits tend to stay in the strike zone to entice more bites. Sometimes a lipless and regular crank bait will call them out. and my big fish tip? I tend to catch bigger bass when the pockets or creek mouths I’m fishing are near deeper water.

“In South Florida, the bass start to spawn in November. As soon the water gets into the 60’s, start looking for some beds. Sometimes they can even spawn 2 times a year!

Florida bass bedding seasons

Where I’m located, in Northern Florida, bass beds begin to become visible in December with peak bedding in about Feb-March depending on how the weather is going. Which usually means an extreme cold front just in time for guiding or weekend tournaments. But that’s the outdoors! Fingers crossed that Mother Nature decides to play along.

“I love bedding season! Sight fishing is so much fun! I fish a lot of clear water and it’s exciting to be able to see all of the bass, even if I can’t get them to bite. This time of year I also get great footage using my Eco-Popper (top water fishing lure that has a built in HD camera). It’s real time footage, so it helps me scout the water for beds and get cool video to share with my friends and sponsors. Plus, it catches fish!

“Another technique that is very effective this time of year is a drop shot. Again, I use a Tightlines UV bait or at least spray Bait Bomb UV scent on it because it looks more natural and the bass can be skittish in the shallow, clear water. My other “go to” techniques is a lighter weighted Petey Rig (better for darker water where you can cast and drag through beds) and wacky rig pitching to beds. Remember to be as quiet as you can and watch your shadows.

Catching Florida winter bass, best lakes

“At Bienville Plantation in White Springs Florida, where I guide, one lake we have has over 1k miles of shore line. Here I find bass beds tucked along the banks under branches and on humps in the middle of big pools. The excitement on clients faces (usually not fishermen) when they experience sight fishing for the first time is contagious! That’s one (of many things) I love about fishing.

“My top 3 lakes to fish in Florida are Lake Toho, Lake Harris and Okeechobee. They have some of the biggest bass I’ve ever seen and you just never know when that big one will be tugging on the line. I’m always eager to see what weights come to the scales during tournaments. Heavy hitters here in Florida make for some great competition.

I love being out on the water. Fishing for fun, guiding or competing in tournaments,the day is sure to be an adventure. I never truly know what may happen or what I will see but I will find out!”

Lake Toho

West Lake Tohopekaliga,better known as Lake Toho, is located adjacent to the City of Kissimmee in central Florida. This 18,810-acre lake is well known throughout the angling community for producing excellent fishing for numbers of bass as well as trophy largemouth bass.

Most anglers target trophy bass in the winter and early spring on Lake Toho. Live golden shiners are very popular in fairly easy for the novice angler to use. A live shiner fished under a float near vegetation and hydrilla will do well. The above-mentioned artificial lures catch plenty of bass, two

The most reliable spot for bass fishing on Lake Toho are North Steer Beach, Lanier Point, Little Grassy Island and Goblet’s Cove. Shingle Creek and St. Cloud Canal(C-31) are good spots when we’ve had a little rain and water is flowing through. There are also eight artificial fish attractors that have been placed in the deeper part of the lake. These are good spots to try during the summer. Five boat ramps, to fish camps, and a marina offer anglers access to the lake.

Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee, or the“Big O” as it is affectionately called, is Florida’s largest lake. It is also the second largest lake in the continental United States. Lake Okeechobee sits in the south central part of the state. It basically creates the Everglades. It is a large, weedy, shallow body of water that offers excellent bass fishing all year long.

Anglers fishing Lake Okeechobee use multiple techniques successfully. Artificial lures are favored by many as they allow anglers to cover the water and eliminate unproductive spots. The combination of dense weeds in open water leaves anglers a choice of baits they like to cast for bass. Anglers can choose to use live golden shiners as well.

Lake Okeechobee is huge and can be intimidating. A great starting point is the area on the west central side of the lake near Lakeport. Reliable spots on Lake Okeechobee are South Bay, the Shoal, Monkey Box, Harney Pond and the North Shore. Public boat ramps and marinas are available at several locations on the lake.

Lake Harris

Lake Harris is 8 miles long, 6 miles wide, and is located in central Florida in Lake County. It is roughly 15,000 acres. It averages 10 feet deep with a 2230 feet trough along the southern shore. The lake has abundant aquatic vegetation such as Kissimmee grass, reeds, pads, grass, and cattails. Most of the productive areas with vegetation are and 5 feet of water or less.

The top spots to catch largemouth bass and Lake Harris are Helena Run, Lake Denham, the entrance to the Palatlaka River, Springs in underwater humps in Yalaha, long island, Green Cove, and the mouth of the Dead River. Shallow, weedy areas are best and winter and spring while the deeper offshore humps and channels are better in the heat of summer.

Women bass fishing, Joining a Bass Club, by Stacy Barawed

I still remember the first time I’d heard about the Folsom Bass Team.  In the fall of 2017, I noticed a flyer hanging in the communal kitchen of our office building; I can’t recall the exact verbiage, but it must have read something like, “Ever thought of joining a bass club?” or “Do you enjoy fishing?” or “Hey girl, are you looking for a new way to spend your money?”  Whatever it was, it sure caught my eye. women bass fishing, tournament tips

A couple of weeks later, I received a private message through Fishbrain, which is largely regarded as “Instagram for anglers”.  The message was from Michael Allen, a fellow tenant, Fishbrainer, and tournament angler who thought the club might be a great way for me to expand my horizons and meet some like-minded individuals.  At the time, I had only been fishing for about a year, and only in ponds and very small lakes.   What could I possibly contribute to a club?  A source of ridicule and laughter?  I politely (hopefully) declined and didn’t give it another thought for months.
 
Once Spring rolled around and I was having more success, I thought about the club again.  Our building managers throw a Cinco de Mayo festival each year for their tenants, so I messaged Michael to find out if he’d be there.  He said yes, and we ended up chatting about fishing and the club for nearly an hour, getting sunburned while shoving down complimentary street tacos and margaritas.

First meeting

I attended my first monthly club meeting as his guest that following June, and felt welcomed almost immediately.  Meetings are held at a Round Table Pizza on the west side of Folsom – more specifically, in the back of that restaurant inside a large banquet room emblazoned with Dallas Cowboys signage.  Not strange at all for California, right? Club business was discussed before an awards presentation was held for the previous month’s tournament.
The winners took turns summarizing their experiences on the water, from weather to boating mishaps to baits and lures they had used (that is, if they chose to reveal them).  Trophies and checks were distributed, handshakes were exchanged, and photos were snapped.  Lots of pizza was consumed.  It was all so exciting!   We didn’t have a guest speaker that month, so we moved right into the drawing for the July tournament to be held at Lake Amador.
 
The process sealed the deal for me: I learned that the club hosts monthly team tournaments, matching boaters and non-boaters through a random draw.  I didn’t need to own a boat!  Plus, the random draw helps to level the playing field as members’ skills run the gamut from beginner (me) to folks who’ve been fishing for over fifty years (not me).

Competitive fishing

And with that, I began my foray into competitive fishing…sort of.  With only two regular tournaments left in the season (which runs October to September), along with the final Tournament of Champions, I wasn’t about to enter the mix this late and cost someone points and possibly their Angler of the Year title.  But, I still attended the meetings so I could get to know my fellow club members a little better and congratulate those who had done well (or not) throughout the season.
At our club meeting on Wednesday, October 3rd, I officially threw my hat into the ring to fish my first bass tournament at Lake Berryessa.  I paid my club dues for the 2018-2019 season, filled out my entry slip, and paid my tournament fee. Then came the drawing.  It turned out that there were more non-boaters than boaters signed up this time – one too many, to be exact.  And since I was the low (wo)man on the totem pole, I was the first and only alternate.
 
I could be called to fill in if any other non-boater had to cancel – and unfortunately, this could happen any time between the drawing and the Friday preceding the tournament!  I had to be ready to substitute in at any moment. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait long.  During the drive home, I received a text from Jerry “BassKing” Lawler, our club’s Tournament Director. “Stacy, we have a boater for you.”
 

My first fishing experience, by Stacy Barawed

People often ask me how I began bass fishing.  For most of my life, I haven’t been the “outdoorsy” type by any means; with the exception of school-sponsored Science Camp, I’ve never spent the night surrounded by nature, nor have I shown much interest in any activity that might get my clothes dirty.  However, all of that changed a couple of summers ago.
 
For a few weeks, my family had toyed with the idea of gathering together for a day of fishing.  My stepdad had fished all of his life on the California Delta, my boyfriend fished with his father on occasion growing up, and my brother was just getting into the sport. We decided to meet up at a park close to my home in Northern California on Sunday, July 16, 2016. And so it began. If memory serves me correctly, I was far more interested in the pink box of donuts my mom had brought with her rather than the actual act of fishing.   It was a mild and picturesque July morning and I was relaxed and comfortable in my tube top and flip flops.
 
My mom and sister-in-law settled beneath the shade of an enormous oak tree, taking turns checking our progress and keeping an eye on my 6-year-old niece, who was chasing geese and ducks. I sat down on a soft patch of grass, threw my line in, propped up my fishing pole between my legs, and dove into an apple fritter…and maybe a maple bar as well. I’m not quite sure what I expected to happen next.  After all, I’d never caught a fish before!  So I just waited.  And waited.  And WAITED.  No luck.
 
The only person catching anything was my stepdad, who had commandeered the only small dock on the pond.  He remained very quiet and didn’t move much unless he was reeling in his line or casting it out.  Was that the secret?  I wasn’t sure, but every 15 minutes or so he’d be showing off his catch. Eventually the bite died down; and since we’d depleted our donut supply, it was time to grab a quick sushi lunch (obviously) before heading to our next spot.
 
By the time we wrapped up lunch, the sun was blazing.  July in Sacramento can be oppressively warm, so we headed to a small collection of lakes nestled within a quiet neighborhood with big trees that would provide some relief from the sun.  Here, I was determined to catch a fish.  Again, my stepdad was on a roll, hooking bluegill and baby bass with minimal effort.  In the meantime, it was getting hotter and hotter.  I threw my hair into a ponytail and planted myself in an area with some weeds and grass because “that’s where the fish hang out”.  Because worms were dirty (ick!), I somehow convinced someone to put one on my hook for me.
 
I threw my line in, gave my pole a little wiggle, and then felt…something. I watched my line move away from me, and I froze.  What now? “Set the hook!” my boyfriend screeched.  I gave my pole a quick yank, and felt an immediate fight on the other end.  “It’s a good one!” I exclaimed, thrilled and super eager to see what felt like a 5-pound dumbbell on the other end of my line.  Carefully, I reeled it in to avoid breaking my line – after all, this was my first fish!  I didn’t want to ruin the moment!  At this point, my entire family was watching. The fish took a quick turn and diverted into the weeds, and I was afraid my line would get tangled – or worse – snap.
 
My boyfriend stepped into the weeds to save it, and his smile slowly drained from his face.  I hadn’t snagged a “good one” at all, or even a fish for that matter – just a poor, unsuspecting turtle.  Even worse, the hook was set so far back into its shell that we couldn’t even remove it for fear of injuring the turtle.  We cut the line and let the little guy free and watched him swim away with a hook inside him.   Follow Stacy on Instagram By that time, temperatures were close to 100 degrees so we called it a day. After this fateful Sunday, my interest in fishing could have gone one of two ways: I could have given up completely, having nothing to brag about after 6 hours (besides a really great tan), or I could have resolved to keep trying.
 
Luckily, I’m not a quitter.  Millions of people catch fish, so why couldn’t I?   What was my stepdad doing that I wasn’t doing?   These thoughts that were swirling inside my head, coupled with my competitive nature and the elation I felt when I hooked that turtle, were enough to convince me to go home and begin my lifelong journey to learn everything I could about the sport.
 
Without a doubt, I’ve learned a lot since that afternoon.  YouTube videos, magazines, trade shows, and chatting with fellow fishermen on social media platforms like Fishbrain, Instagram, and Facebook have helped me improve my skills immensely.  I’ve even joined my local bass club – and with fellow members who have fished for 30, 40, or even more than 50 years, there are several lifetimes of information for me to soak up.  With all of these resources at my fingertips, I can’t wait to see what unfolds during the next two years!   But first: a donut run.
 
In conclusion, this article on largemouth bass fishing will simplify the tackle and techniques and result in anglers being more successful!